OK, I know it’s an Olympic year and there is no All-Star Game, nor is there an All-Star Team. But, for the sake of giving myself something about which to write a column, I present you with the 2010 NHL All Star Team. PP(P)= Powerplay (points). GAA = Goals Against Average. SP = Save Percentage. All numbers were accurate as of 12/2/09.
The goaltending race is pretty tight this season, with some exceptional standouts. Ryan Miller is hands down the best goalie in the NHL right now, with a line of 15-4, 1.84 GAA, and .937 SP. Oh yeah — he’s got three shutouts, too. Rounding out the East are Martin Brodeur, who missed the All-Star game last year due to that pesky bicep injury he suffered early in the season, and Marc-Andre Fleury, who unfortunately had a front-row view of the Penguins’ atrocious November and December. Brodeur’s sitting on 15 wins, with a 2.05 GAA and .927 SP, and Fleury has backstopped the defending Stanley Cup Champions with 16 wins, though his GAA and SP are a bit high for some of the other elite goalies out there, 2.51 and .904, respectively.
In the West, Miikka Kiprusoff and Evgeni Nabokov are crushing some numbers. Kipper’s keeping southern Alberta hot with 15 wins, 2.27 GAA, and .925 SP, while Nabokov is well on his way to starting 112 games this regular season and has earned 16 wins, 2.35 GAA, and .921 SP. The last spot is up for debate, but I’m going with Craig Anderson. Yes, it’s the feel-good choice with the Avalanche exceeding expectations, but when my two favorite players of all time have played for the Avs, I’m allowed to be biased. Plus, the dude’s 14-7 with 2.65 GAA and .919 SP. Not too shabby.
Honorable mentions to Antero Niitymaki (2.18 GAA and .931 SP but only 6 wins), Dwayne Roloson (8-2, 2.80 GAA, .916 SP), and Semyon Varlamov (10-1(!), 2.38 GAA, .919 SP).
For those stat studs out there, you know that no goalie who made the team last year has done it again. I’ll run down the list. Carey Price: without the votes from half of Quebec, Price would have watched from his couch at home, and probably should have anyway. Henrik Lundqvist: 11-10, 2.74 GAA and .910 SP – good, but the .500 in wins is not good enough. Tim Thomas: The Bruins’ early struggles have sunk the defending Vezina winner to only 7 wins, though his GAA (2.27) and SP (.920) are impressive. J-S Giguere: He’s not even the starter for Anaheim – ouch. Roberto Luongo: See Thomas, Tim. Nicklas Backstrom: I blame this on the Wild management, who finally got rid of Marion Gaborik’s glass figure…and quickly replaced it with Martin Havlat’s glass figure. Other poor offseason moves gave Backstrom hardly any offense to back up some decent numbers (2.65 GAA, .909 SP).
Sidney Crosby – Duh.
Evgeni Malkin – Duh.
Alex Ovechkin – Duh, granted he isn’t suspended (zinga!).
Marion Gaborik – 21 goals. If he’s healthy, he’s challenging for the Rocket Richard, maybe the Art Ross.
Ilya Kovalchuk – 15 goals, and the only reason Atlanta may have a hockey team in the near future.
Zach Parise – Dominating offensive player on a team still considered primarily defensive. He’s +17 too.
Steven Stamkos – Maybe Vinny or Marty get the bid on reputation, but Stevie’s got the numbers. With 17 goals he kept the Lightning afloat until Lecavalier and St. Louis found their games.
These guys I feel confident about, and they have my full support. The next five guys who make the team show the injuries that have taken their toll in the East and how bad some superstars have been.
Nicklas Backstrom – 27 points, 12 on the PP.
Martin St. Louis – 28 points, and finding his groove.
Daniel Alfredsson – 26 points and because he’s Swedish.
Mike Cammalleri – 22 points, but 12 goals and the best player on the Canadiens.
Mike Richards – 22 points and because I’d rather have a Flyer on the All-Star Team than some other guys. And that’s saying something.
Honorable mentions to some odd, odd characters. Milan Michalek and Ryan Malone have 15 goals, but I can’t pull myself to consider these guys elite. Vinny Prospal and Rich Peverley have 26 points, but Prospal’s too inconsistent, and Rich Peverley is, let’s face it, Rich Peverley. Max Afinogenov and Tomas Plekanec have as many points as Malkin, but they don’t have a Conn Smythe. Vinny Lecavalier, Marc Savard, Eric Staal, Alex Kovalev, and Thomas Vanek are nowhere to be found with a combination of slow starts, injuries, and the fact that one is completely overrated and his younger brother is much better than he (hint: it isn’t Vinny, Marc, Kovi, or Tom).
Joe Thornton – Leading the NHL with 39 points. In.
Patrick Marleau – 33 points and part of the best line in hockey.
Dany Heatley – 32 points and rounding out the best line in hockey with Thornton and Marleau. I vote this be the starting line for the Western Conference. They’ll need something special after another underwhelming playoffs this spring.
Anze Kopitar – 33 points and he was on a streak that had people wondering when he’d stop. Unfortunately, that came with the injury to linemate Ryan Smyth. He’s still a contender and will continue to put points up for LA.
Corey Perry – 19-game point streak. Asked among him, Getzlaf, and Bobby Ryan having that kind of production consistency, I would have said the one of them who is balding.
Jarome Iginla – What can you say. Probably the best all-around player in the NHL for a decade, Iginla combines the best things about most captains: leadership, talent, and physicality.
Ryan Getzlaf – He’s got 30 points, 12 of them on the power play. Plus, he centers what might be the second-best line in the West.
Rick Nash – Nash produces, and he’s got 28 on the year to keep himself going.
Brad Richards – Only seven goals for the ’04 Conn Smythe winner, but he’s got 32 points total, half of which he’s earned with the man advantage.
Henrik Sedin – Daniel went down early in the season with an injury, but Henrik kept rolling and has 30 points on the season.
Henrik Zetterberg – 27 points for Hank, 10 on the PP. The best in Detroit after Datsyuk’s slow start.
Patrick Kane – 26 points and he hasn’t beaten up any cabbies!
Last year’s leftovers haven’t fared too well. Dustin Brown and Shane Doan have had slow starts, Milan Hejduk is injured, and Mike Modano and Keith Tkachuk have been playing but are probably too old at this point to continue being All-Stars.
Chris Pronger – Weird seeing his name in the East, but Pronger’s elbows are the frontrunners for the Norris this year.
Tomas Kaberle – It’s crazy that Kaberle plays in Toronto and doesn’t get more attention. He’s got 26 points, 17 on the PP!
Mike Green – Not as many goals as he had last year, but he’s got 25 points and is +7.
Mark Streit – 15 points and one of the best defensemen in the league.
Zach Bogosian – eight goals, most for a defenseman. This kid is going to be something, mark it down.
Sergei Gonchar – 13 points but missed time with a broken wrist.
Where’s Chara and Markov? Chara’s got one, I repeat, one goal, and Markov won’t be back from the IR until the Olympics if he’s lucky. Oh, and Mike Komisarek was flukier than Price, both being voted in by the Montreal fan base (which boos Komisarek now that he’s a Leaf).
Lubomir Visnovsky – 18 points, +6, and 10 PPP.
Scott Niedermayer – 17 points, and one of the best playoff beards in hockey (not that it matters).
Christian Ehrhoff – 17 points, 13 PPP, and +11.
Dan Boyle – He’s a beast on a beast of a team. 24 points with 13 on the PP.
Duncan Keith – Maybe the smoothest-skating defenseman in the league, he’s got 23 points and the defensive prowess to make him a complete package. And he’ll be older than Gordie Howe when his new contract expires.
Jay Bouwmeester – Not too many points (13), but seven came on the powerplay and he’s +12.
Matt Carle, Dion Phaneuf, Brent Seabrook, or Brian Campbell could be on here, but I wanted to keep it as close to one player per team as possible. Where’s Nick Lidstrom? He’s only got eight points and it doesn’t look like he’s catching fire anytime soon. Plus, even if some of the guys I picked wouldn’t actually be on the All-Star Team, it’s good that they get exposure.
There’s your 2010 NHL All Star Teams. Debate and argue at will.